In a time long since forgotten, men and malāikah interacted freely. Keeping watch over mankind are the iri or those who are awake.
Adar-Malik has survived a reaping, drought, famine, and numerous invasions to his lands, each time proving his resolve to protect his people. He has brought Qiruta from the edge of collapse, turning it into a kingdom many envied. He bows to no one, not even to the Creator.
V has been sent to observe and educate the young and powerful king of Qiruta in the ways of the world and to respect the Creator. When he meets Adar-Malik, V recognizes the human as his Chosen One and begins to question who and what he is.
Is V willing to give up everything to be with the human he loves?
V looked up at the flurry of snow. It was already midwinter, and he wondered where time had gone. The snow made the rolling countryside pleasant and picturesque when the sun came out from behind the clouds, but at that moment, it was a harsh gray world, driven by a cold wind.
V might be a malāikah, but he still felt and detested the cold. He pulled the edges of his robes tighter around him, but it barely made a difference, and a shiver racked his body. In frustration, he spread out his wings and wrapped them around his torso. Made of light and fire, his wings were usually the only thing that could correct the chill. He hated it when others could see his discomfort. Why was it he was the only one with such a weakness? It was one reason why he liked going to his secret hideaway. Even way up in the mountains, the heat from the desert rose up to compensate. When on Earth, he never felt chilled, even during winter. He sighed as he thought about his home away from Heaven. It had been over two centuries since he’d been there. Teaching the young ones how to fly had kept him busy.
A shift in the air made him look up to search the skies. Someone was coming. He whirled around when a loud thump sounded behind him. Much to his amusement, it was but a young malāikah. From the color of his robes and absence of wings, he was an ishim, or messenger, most likely only in his sixth year. He started to get up on his knees, a grimace marring his otherwise exquisite features. His hands and white robes were muddied from where he’d landed on the ground. The young ishim’s lips quivered, and he didn’t raise his face to look at V.
“That was a rough landing.” V kept his voice as casual as he could, helping the young one to his feet. “Are you all right? Does it hurt anywhere?”
“I’m sorry, V. I was looking everywhere for you,” the young ishim said. He pulled out a rolled parchment from inside his wide sleeve and held it out. “Marut told me to give this to you.”
V took the parchment and read the message written on it.
Come to Nebo’s office as soon as you can. I’ll assign another to take over your classes. Marut.
“Did he say anything to you? Why they wanted me there?” V asked, a deep frown forming between his brows.
“No. He just handed it to me and told me to hurry. That was an hour ago, and now I’m scared I will be punished.” The ishim’s eyes teared up. He bit his lower lip and hung down his head. Where his tears fell on the ground, flowers of every color and shape bloomed until their scented perfume threatened to overwhelm V’s senses.
“I’ll tell him it was my fault you couldn’t find me,” V said, looking at the flowers that were now spreading around their feet at a rapid rate. “I like your gift. What’s your name, young ishim?”
“Yes, your tears make a bouquet of flowers. But really, what’s your name?”
V’s jaw dropped in disbelief. The name left the door open to a lot of teasing. Whoever had thought up his name had a weird sense of humor.
“They actually named you Bouquet? Is that your real name?”
“I hate it.” Bouquet sniffed. Again, more tears fell. The front of his robes began to bloom pink and yellow flowers.
Fearing the ishim would soon embody his very name, V went down on one knee and placed a gentle hand on the young one’s shoulder.
“You know, you can always change your name. You’re malāikah, and you can do whatever you want.”
Bouquet swiped a hand across his face and stared at V with widened eyes. “I can?”
“Of course you can. How do you think I came up with V?”
“You have a different name?” Bouquet cocked his head to one side.
“Yes, don’t you know all of us have a secret name? One we are born with. It is up to you to let anyone know what it is, but it’s best you don’t. For one, it can be used against us. Anyone who has knowledge of our real names can take advantage of our abilities. We don’t want that to happen, for it may wreak havoc in the balance of things.” V shook his head slowly to emphasize his words.
Bouquet’s eyes widened even more and he started to mimic V’s movement. “No, we don’t.”
“There is only one who should know it, and I think you know who it is?” V raised one brow as a prompt.
“Our Chosen One,” Bouquet whispered.
V nodded gravely. “You know me as V, and you now know why I won’t tell you what my real name is. It’s a secret. Also, I found it too long, and I like simple names.”
Bouquet frowned and pursed his lips. “It’s a letter.”
“Right? It’s genius.” V laughed out loud.
Bouquet’s tears instantly dried up as he joined V in his laugher. “I like you, V.” Bouquet dragged a sleeve across his face, where tiny, pale-colored flowers immediately sprouted.
“Thank you, I like you, too.” V gave Bouquet an encouraging smile and patted him on his thin arm. “Now, go on ahead. I’m sure you have things to do other than deliver messages to me.”
Bouquet grinned broadly. “I’m late for the mess hall.” He waved, did a little jump skip, and shot up to the sky.